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Former Rep. Tom Suozzi Democrats’ choice for special election for Congress

December 7, 2023

Publication: Newsday

By: Scott Eidler

Credit: Howard Schnapp

Democrats on Thursday chose former Rep. Tom Suozzi to run in the Feb. 13 special election to replace Republican George Santos in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, days after Santos was expelled from the House.

Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau Democratic chairman, and 5th District Rep. Gregory Meeks, the Queens County party chairman, announced Suozzi’s selection as the party’s nominee on Thursday, after an advisory vote of party executive committee members.

Political party leaders choose the candidates in a special election, according to New York elections law. There will be no primary in the special election.

Meeks told Newsday voters “want someone to represent the district with somebody that they know. Many of the constituents previously were coming to other members to get constituency services. Those days will soon be over.”

Jacobs said the race will get, “national attention, as it should.”

“We have begun already. We knew this day was coming,” he said.

Suozzi, who held the seat from 2017 through 2022, said in a statement he would “work day and night with both parties to deliver for the people to make living here more affordable, safer, and better. I delivered for this district before, and I will do it again by putting you ahead of partisanship. Let’s reject the nonsense and get back to work. Let’s Fix This!”

National Republicans and Democrats view the 3rd District race as key to the battle for control of the House. After Santos’ expulsion and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s resignation at the end of the year, Republicans will be able to lose only three votes on a party-line vote and still get a bill passed, if every House member is in attendance.

The 3rd District includes parts of Queens and the North Shore of Nassau County, as well as parts of southeastern Nassau. The district has more than 531,000 registered voters, state board of election filings show. Thirty-eight percent are registered Democrats, 28% are Republicans and 28% are not registered with any political party.

Whoever wins the special election will have to run for election to a full two-year term in November and could face the prospect of having to run in a June party primary. The job pays $174,000 a year.

Santos became the sixth House member ever to be expelled.

The U.S. Justice Department has indicted Santos on 23 criminal charges such as filing false campaign fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, stealing thousands of dollars from campaign donors and wire fraud.

On Nov. 16, the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report, accusing Santos of having used campaign funds for personal expenses such as hotel stays, shopping and Botox treatments.

Santos has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and his trial is scheduled for Sept. 9 at U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Suozzi is a former mayor of Glen Cove and two-term Nassau County executive. In the House, he sat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and served as a vice-chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.

Suozzi, who did not seek re-election in 2022, instead ran that year for New York governor. He finished third in the Democratic primary.

Santos was elected to Congress that year, defeating Democratic nominee Robert Zimmerman.

Republicans have yet to announce their pick to run in the 3rd District special election. Mike Deery, executive director of the Nassau Republican Committee, said the party on Wednesday concluded four days of interviews with about 20 prospective candidates

The 3rd District has changed substantially since 2020, the last time Suozzi ran for the seat, when it included parts of Suffolk County.

The redrawn district includes Republican strongholds such as Levittown.

The Nassau Republican Committee said in a statement Thursday: “Tom Suozzi abandoned his Congressional seat to George Santos during his failed campaign to advance his political career. Now, he wants another chance to get back on the public payroll? Voters will reject Suozzi because he will be a ‘rubber stamp’ for the extreme policies of President Biden” and far-left Democrats.

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